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Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy For Users

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Location: Washington, DC


TRANSPORTATION EQUITY ACT: A LEGACY FOR USERS -- (House of Representatives - April 01, 2004)

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to House Resolution 593 and rule XVIII, the Chair declares the House in the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union for the further consideration of the bill, H.R. 3550.

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AMENDMENT NO. 20 OFFERED BY MR. BRADLEY OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

Mr. BRADLEY of New Hampshire. Mr. Chairman, I offer an amendment.

The CHAIRMAN pro tempore. The Clerk will designate the amendment.

The text of the amendment is as follows:

Amendment No. 20 offered by Mr. Bradley of New Hampshire:

Add at the end the following new section:

SECTION 1. VEHICLE WEIGHT LIMITATIONS.

(a) The next to the last sentence of section 127(a) of title 23, United States Code, is amended by striking "Interstate Route 95" and inserting "Interstate Routes 89, 93, and 95".

(b)(1) IN GENERAL.-In consultation with the Secretary of Transportation, the State of New Hampshire shall conduct a study analyzing the economic, safety, and infrastructure impacts of the exemption provided by the amendment made by subsection (a), including the impact of not having such an exemption. In preparing the study, the State shall provide adequate opportunity for public comment.

(2) FUNDING.-There is authorized to be appropriated from the Highway Trust Fund (other than the Mass Transit Account) $250,000 for fiscal year 2004 to carry out the study.

(3) APPLICABILITY OF TITLE 23, UNITED STATES CODE.-Funds authorized by this section shall be available for obligation in the same manner as if such funds were apportioned under chapter 1 of title 23, United States Code; except that such funds shall remain available until expended.

The CHAIRMAN pro tempore. Pursuant to House Resolution 593, the gentleman from New Hampshire (Mr. Bradley) and a Member opposed each will control 5 minutes.

The Chair recognizes the gentleman from New Hampshire (Mr. Bradley).

Mr. BRADLEY of New Hampshire. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Chairman, I propose this amendment for consideration by the Congress so that it can strictly apply to the State of New Hampshire, raising the weight limits on trucks that travel on Interstate 89 and Interstate 93. Currently, right now, Mr. Chairman, we have trucks avoiding our main highways and driving through some of the most populated towns in our State in order to avoid the weight limit.

Mr. Chairman, when I proposed this amendment to the Committee on Rules, I submitted for the record letters from many public safety people throughout our State, including the Department of Safety, the Department of Transportation, local police chiefs, as well as town councilors, and others supporting this amendment.

The reason people in New Hampshire support this amendment, Mr. Chairman, is that our trucks are riding on roads where there is no weight limit up to 99,000 pounds, presenting significant public safety issues, going by schools and other places of assembly. We need to get these trucks on our highways where they are safer and where they are designed to be operated.

Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. BRADLEY of New Hampshire. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume to respond that perhaps my esteemed colleague is not aware of the fact that New Hampshire requested this exact type of study to be done in the last transportation authorization on Route 95, which is the north-south route that goes all through New England. When a study was done by the Maine Department of Transportation, while it has not been published, all indicators are that there have been no safety impacts and negligible costs to the infrastructure from raising the weight limits from 80,000 pounds gross vehicle weight to 99,000 pounds, exactly what we are asking for Route 93 and Route 89.

So, Mr. Chairman, the money has already been appropriated in the last transportation appropriations bill. There is no impact on the budget. We will not permanently raise the weight limit in the absence of this study. We are asking for the authorization to go ahead with the weight limit increase while the study is being performed.

And as I said, all of the public safety officials in my State are supportive of this weight limit increase. Because currently, right now, we have large trucks avoiding the weight limitation station and driving through two of the most populous communities in the State, where there are schools and where there are many kids on bicycles. We need to get these trucks on the highway.

As I said, the study that was done on Route 95 will show no negligible safety or infrastructure effect.

Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. BRADLEY of New Hampshire. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume to respond to the criticisms of my esteemed colleague from Massachusetts, and remind my colleague from Massachusetts that I, from New Hampshire, ask only the same consideration and the same laws with regard to truck weight limit that now apply in his State of Massachusetts, which on all highways, to the best of my knowledge, allow at least 99,000 pounds gross vehicle weight, and in some instances, with a waiver, up to 120,000 pounds.

I would also remind my colleague that when we are talking about public safety with regard to New Hampshire, the commissioner of the Department of Safety, the commissioner of the Department of Transportation, local police chiefs, fire chiefs, town councilors, elected officials from the impacted communities where trucks are leaving the highway and going downtown, where there is traffic, where there are kids, where there are schools and churches, and where there are community centers, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, we all want to try and get these trucks on our highways where the
safety impact to people's lives and well-being will not be hurt.

Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. BRADLEY of New Hampshire. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume, and in closing I would ask the consideration of the body for this request.

This applies only to the State of New Hampshire. All of the public safety officials in my State are supportive of this change. It is designed to protect the lives of people in the communities where there are, as I have mentioned before, schools, traffic, downtown crossings.

I would ask the consideration of the Congress for this sensible change. There is no impact on the budget, as the money for this study was appropriated in the last transportation authorization bill.

Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. BRADLEY of New Hampshire. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself the balance of my time.

Mr. Chairman, Route 93 in New Hampshire is indeed a toll road, and we are asking for the same consideration that Massachusetts currently enjoys, which is 99,000 gross vehicle weight limit. And what is good for Massachusetts clearly should be good for New Hampshire.

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Mr. BRADLEY of New Hampshire. Mr. Chairman, I demand a recorded vote.

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